Business Administration - Theses
Now showing items 1-4 of 4
Rules bound: how institutional effects diffuse through and bind the market relations between firms
Institutions, in the sense of durable systems of behavioural rules, norms and beliefs, are generally limited in their scope. Collective rules and norms are developed for specific behaviours and enforced within delimited social domains. This dissertation examines how, in shaping the behaviour of firms, the effects of institutions diffuse from their original contexts to outside domains. It explores how firms’ market relations may serve as a conduit for this diffusion. Chapter One provides a context to, and overview of, the entire dissertation. A conceptual framework is introduced that distinguishes between four kinds of institutional effects on firm behaviour. Collective rules and norms can have direct effects, in promoting the adoption of behaviours in relation to which those rules and norms have developed. Institutions can also have diffuse effects, as when actors observe and react to how rules and norms are enforced on others. These direct and diffuse effects of institutions can unfold inside the domains in which they are established and enforced. Alternatively, the effects of an institution may be extra-jurisdictional, impinging on actors who are far from the institution’s original domain. A theoretical account of those effects that are at once diffuse and extra-jurisdictional is identified as a central contribution of this dissertation. Chapter Two presents the first of two empirical studies, entitled ‘Rules That Bound: How External Regulation and Partner Dependence Combine to Drive Practice Adoption.’ The study features a quantitative analysis of how regulation—explicit rules, administrative guidelines and laws (Scott, 1995)—affects the adoption of practices by the suppliers to a regulated industry. A novel dataset is utilised which tracks the adoption of green building design practices by a panel of 226 architecture studios in Australia from 2008-2015. In line with my theoretical predictions, I find that firms are influenced by regulations from jurisdictions where they do not operate but where their prospective clients do. In their responses to extra-jurisdictional regulation, firms are shown to vary to an extent that depends on a firm’s power relative to that of its clients. Chapter Three, entitled ‘Rules That Bind: The Observance of Norms in Early Stage Interorganisational Relations,’ explores how social norms—implicit behavioural rules which specify what is valued and what ought to be done (Scott, 1995)—function to draw firms into productive relations. This study involves a qualitative analysis of 22 early stage relationships between Australian design service firms and their clients. Using inductive multiple-case analysis, I identify a system of norms that influence the tendency of client firms to act cooperatively in new relations. Clients providing unilateral and weakly contingent benefits to their suppliers is found to have a positive effect on relationship development. I propose that this effect is mediated by a firm’s judgment of its client’s ‘character’ (i.e. the client’s underlying behavioural tendencies and values). In addition, this study suggests a previously unidentified contingency in the social judgment process by which corporate reputation forms: as a firm’s power increases relative to that of its client, the firm is more likely to impute positive character to the client for conduct that conforms to prevailing norms. Taken together, the findings from this research suggest that firms are receptive to how their prospective clients are operated upon by institutional forces, including by forces emanating from outside domains. The behavioural effects of institutions are found to diffuse, within and across contexts, through the market relations between firms. Consistent across the two studies presented, firms’ responses to institutional effects on their clients are found to vary to an extent that depends on a firm’s power relative to that of its clients. Following resource dependence theory, power is defined in terms of a firm’s control over vital resources and as a property of exchange relations (Emerson, 1962). This leads to the conclusion that as institutional effects diffuse through the relations between firms they are moderated by properties of those relations.
Understanding how cloud computing enables business model innovation in start-up companies
Start-up companies contribute significantly to the national economies of many countries but their failure rate is notably high. Successful start-ups typically depend on innovative business models to be competitive and maintain profitability. This thesis explores how the new technologies of cloud computing might enable start-ups to create and maintain competitive advantage. A conceptual framework called Cloud-Enabled Business Model Innovation (CEBMI) is presented that identifies three research questions concerning how cloud computing might enable business model innovation, what form this innovation takes, and how the innovation leads to competitive advantage. These questions were then investigated through three empirical studies involving six case studies with start-ups and two qualitative studies involving interviews with 11 business consultants and three cloud service providers. The detailed findings are presented as a set of key propositions that offer answers to the research questions, and together sketch a view of how CEBMI might enable start-ups to achieve competitive advantage.
Navigating the identity market to find brand resonance: a phenomenological study of the marketing work of personal branding
This thesis introduces the missing voice of personal branders to describe how the marketing work of personal branding is undertaken in the identity market. To do this, it adopts a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to situate the phenomenon of personal branding in relation to macro-level trends in consumer culture, including the commodification and marketisation of personhood and the anthropomorphication (or humanisation) of brands. From this socio-historic perspective, it examines the lived experiences of ten participants with established brands in diverse occupations and organisational fields for a period of seven years. Using Bourdieun theory as an overarching framework, this research found that: (1) the field of the identity market was a contested space structured by six major intersections that the personal branders navigated relating to their marketisation, commodification, locus of work, brand authorship, visibility, and marketing ethics; (2) personal brand capital was comprised of economic, social, and cultural dimensions that were volatile, unpredictable, and difficult to convert; (3) personal branders drew on multidimensional, but fragmented sources of knowledge and learning to become habituated to the identity market; (4) personal brand demise/death was an ever-present threat associated with the alienating experiences of selling out, fading out, and burning out; and (5) the marketing work of personal branding was constituted by practices such as engaging in identity compartmentalisation, interdependent status games with other actors, discursive identity negotiation, and multiple market exchange modalities of selling versus gifting and sharing personal brands. The empirical, practice-based account of personal branding this thesis advances fundamentally challenges the knowledge claims underlying the influential popular press literature on the subject that has emerged since the late 1990s. In contrast to the personal branding movement’s assurances of efficacy, graduated and prescriptive processes, and codified marketing plans, this thesis supports that the marketing work of personal branding is more accurately described as tacit, ambiguous, informal, uncertain, and creative. The lived experience of being a brand is replete with conflict, failure, symbolic domination, and multiple forms of alienation. These findings not only revise the knowledge claims about personal branding for practitioners, but contribute to the literature on cultural branding and marketing work by re-examining theories about self-commodification, the role and function of personal brands in postmodern consumer culture, and the value of humanistic accounts of marketing work to address theory-practice gaps in the marketing literature.
Feeling misidentified: the consequences of internal identity asymmetries for individuals at work
People have an enduring interest and concern with how they are perceived by others, particularly when these others can influence key outcomes. For example, at work, factors like promotions, performance reviews, pay raises and coveted assignments are often tied to the perceptions and evaluations of one’s colleagues. Given this, individuals are likely to discern and monitor how their colleagues see them in the workplace. What happens, then, when individuals believe that their colleagues have an incorrect understanding of their identity? In this thesis, I define, unpack and examine this experience, internal identity asymmetry, the belief that one is misidentified by important others at work. I explore internal identity asymmetry through three papers, which together employ multiple methodologies and analysis techniques to develop insight into this important identity process in the workplace. My first paper (Chapter 2) links the identity, self-verification, and impression management literatures to conceptually introduce the concept of internal identity asymmetry. Drawing on the stress and coping literature, I suggest that cognitive appraisal processes moderate asymmetry’s positive or negative outcomes. Through field studies of over 300 working individuals, in my second paper (Chapter 3), I demonstrate the importance of internal identity asymmetry and its appraisal by examining its impacts on individuals’ attitudes and performance. Importantly, I show that while asymmetry may drive negative attitudes, at the same time it can positively impact an individual’s performance. Finally, incorporating the gender and leadership literatures, I explore the subjective experience of internal identity asymmetry through qualitative interviews of women leaders. I explore the types of asymmetry experienced by women, delve into the strategies they use to cope with and manage the experience, and uncover when they are most likely to experience it throughout their careers. Together these studies provide us with a greater understanding of an important intra-individual phenomenon - internal identity asymmetry - that has significant implications for individuals at work.